FAQ's about QMSA

Questions about why choosing MAPSS QMSA:

Q: What is the MAPSS program?
Q: What distinguishes QMSA from the certificate training in computational methods?
Q: How should I choose between the MAPSS QMSA program and the Master’s in Computational Social Science (MACSS) program?
Q: What are the PhD and career placement prospects of QMSA students?

Questions about what to be aware when applying for QMSA:

Q: Can I still apply to QMSA without having met all of the necessary criteria?
Q: How and when do I apply for QMSA?
Q: What is the selection process like for QMSA?
Q: What is the typical structure of the QMSA program?
Q: When is the deadline for declaring the QMSA concentration? How?

Questions about program requirements:

Q: What are the requirements for the QMSA concentration?
Q: Can the Computational Math Camp requirement be waived?
Q: Is the Computational Math Camp or placement test required for all students or just QMSA students?
Q: Is the Computational Math Camp different from the General Math Camp? If so, how?
Q: Can the MACSS/ Computational Social Science classes be taken as electives? 
Q: Where can I find information about quantitative courses that are being offered?
Q: What is the thesis requirement for QMSA?
Q: How do students choose the topic for their QMSA thesis?
Q: What are some examples of successful thesis from prior QMSA students?

Questions about opportunities QMSA students have to interact and work with the faculty:

Q: Do we place students into labs?
Q: How do QMSA students usually work with QMSA faculty?
Q: Are there other opportunities for QMSA students to interact with faculty?
Q: Are there any paid RA positions available for QMSA students?
Q: Do QMSA students typically assist faculty on a voluntary basis?
Q: I plan to apply to behavioral science PhD programs. Can I have faculty at Booth as my thesis advisor?
Q: Can I still work in my current lab after I transfer to QMSA?

Questions for the 2021 cohort only:

Q: Can I apply for OPT if I do the fall quarter outside the United States?
Q: Is the Computational Math Camp and its placement test happening on campus or is it due via remote learning?
Q: When does the Computational Math Camp and its placement test begin?
Q: Using an F-1 visa, will I be eligible for the 3-year OPT?
Q: Is the COVID-19 test required?    

Answers for why choosing MAPSS QMSA:

Q: What is the MAPSS program?

A: The MA Program in the Social Sciences is an intense one-year program where Students concentrate in anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, sociology, or in interdisciplinary research. More information about MAPSS is at https://mapss.uchicago.edu/.

Q: What distinguishes QMSA from the certificate training in computational methods?     

A: Both are one-year programs. While MACSS is data-driven, QMSA is theory-driven, and we emphasize on more advanced statistical theory for answer research questions in an area in social, behavioral, and biological sciences.

Q: How should I choose between the MAPSS QMSA program and the Master’s in Computational Social Science (MACSS) program?

A: In terms of curricular emphasis, there are at least two major distinctions between QMSA and MACSS:

(1) While both programs expect students to receive training in applied statistical methods, the QMSA program emphasizes that students build a solid foundation in their conceptual understanding of statistical theory through its required courses, which we believe will go a long way toward enabling students to become methodologically innovative in addressing challenging substantive questions in social scientific research. In contrast, MACSS places a relatively greater emphasis on computational techniques and provides extensive training in programming.

(2) The QMSA program emphasizes theory-driven and data-informed research on populations, societies, and behavior, which can be contrasted with data-driven inquiry adopted by most computational approaches. We ask students to develop theoretical understanding of the social phenomenon that one chooses to study through taking relevant elective courses in the social sciences and delving deep into the scholarly literature related to the topic of interest.

Q: What are the PhD and career placement prospects of QMSA students?

A: Most of the graduates of the 2019 cohort are currently research professionals at academic or research institutions or non-profit organizations. Three of them have been accepted by doctoral programs at leading universities including the University of Chicago, Princeton University, Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Texas-Austin, among others.

Answers for what to be aware when applying for QMSA:

Q: Can I still apply to QMSA without having met all of the necessary criteria?

A: Yes, you can. The Admission Subcommittee will review all the materials and make a decision based on your application. Please note the admission criteria (https://voices.uchicago.edu/qrmeth/mapss-qmsa/qmsa-admissions-criteria/).

Q: How and when do I apply for QMSA?

A: You apply directly to MAPSS (https://mapss.uchicago.edu/apply), which has two deadlines – one in January (Priority Deadline), and the other in April (Final Deadline).

Q: What is the selection process like for QMSA?

A: The Admission Subcommittee will review all applications and make a decision based on the applicant’s materials.

Q: What is the typical structure of the QMSA program?

A: Given that it is a one-year program, each QMSA student completes 9 courses in three quarters and works with their faculty mentor on finishing their Master’s thesis in the summer. With respect to course planning, they work with their MAPSS Preceptor on selecting elective courses in their social sciences area and work with the Senior Lecturer on the core and elective methods courses.

Q: When is the deadline for declaring the QMSA concentration? How?

A: If you were admitted into MAPSS, you still have an opportunity to transfer to QMSA before September if you have not previously applied to it. To do so, you would need to submit your revised statement (by end of August) and name two QMSA faculty mentors that you’d like to work with, and list up to five courses in the social sciences, up to five courses in mathematics, up to five courses in statistics, and up to five courses in quantitative methods that you have taken in prior training.

Answers for program requirements:

Q: What are the requirements for the QMSA concentration?

A: The program requirements include: (1) attend the Computational Math Camp and take the math/placement exam in September; (2) take two requirement course sequence in statistical theory; (3) take one required MAPSS Perspective course (in the fall quarter) and one required Overview course (in the winter quarter); (4) take two elective courses in advanced quantitative methods; (5) take three elective courses in the social and behavioral sciences; (7) attend the biweekly workshop and the pre-work sessions; and (8) complete a master’s thesis. More detailed information can be found here (https://voices.uchicago.edu/qrmeth/mapss-qmsa/qmsa-program-requirements/).

Q: Can the Computational Math Camp requirement be waived?

A: It is only waived for QMSA students who receive special permission to attend the math camp designed for MAPSS students in the Economics concentration, which requires prior exposure to real analysis, econometrics, advanced statistics/probability, linear algebra, and multivariable calculus.

Q: Is the Computational Math Camp or placement test required for all students or just QMSA students?

A: The computational math camp and placement exam are required for just QMSA students.

Q: Is the Computational Math Camp different from the General Math Camp? If so, how?             

A: The Computational Math Camp is longer, three weeks, instead of being two weeks for the General Math Camp. It involves calculus, linear algebra, statistical inference, and is mathematically more rigorous.

Q: Can the MACSS/ Computational Social Science classes be taken as electives?

A: Some of the MACSS courses may serve as electives in advanced methods, and if they do fall into our approved list, you can take them as electives.

Q: Where can I find information about quantitative courses that are being offered?

A: For a given academic year, information about offerings of quantitative methods can be found at the Committee’s website (e.g., https://voices.uchicago.edu/qrmeth/courses/).

Q: What is the thesis requirement for QMSA?

A: All QMSA students complete an article-length MA thesis, normally on the order of 30 to 40 double-spaced pages. Students are expected to develop an interesting question, to show a close engagement with the recent literatures in Social, Behavioral and Health Sciences, to lay out appropriate quantitative research design, measurement, and analytical strategies, to draw out and analyze their findings, to carefully scrutinize key assumptions, to discuss results and implications in the context of the problem, and to leave the reader with a clear contribution for further research.

Q: How do students choose the topic for their QMSA thesis?

A: With the help of their MAPSS Preceptor, students take elective courses in their social sciences field to identify a research problem, and work with the Senior Lecturer to find their faculty mentor from within QMSA to determine on the topic.

Q: What are some examples of successful thesis from prior QMSA students?

A: Please find examples of thesis from our 2020 cohort at https://voices.uchicago.edu/qrmeth/thesis-projects-2020/, and from our 2019 cohort at https://voices.uchicago.edu/qrmeth/thesis-projects-2019/.

Answers for opportunities QMSA students have to interact and work with the faculty:

Q: Do we place students into labs?

A: Unlike some other MAPSS concentrations, such as Psychology, we don’t place students into labs.

Q: How do QMSA students usually work with QMSA faculty?

A: Students work one-on-one with their faculty advisors on their MA thesis. For students who desire to work with a specific QMSA faculty member, they need to reach out to him/her by email or visiting during their office hours in the fall quarter. It is also suggested that they try to take their classes, and/or attention their research group meetings regularly.

Q: Are there other opportunities for QMSA students to interact with faculty?

A: Yes. In addition to course instruction, office hours, and thesis supervision, we have other events (QMSA orientation, holiday mixer, workshop, and QMSA thesis symposium) where students can interact with our faculty. Moreover, we are planning to invite internal faculty speakers to the pre-workshop sessions, and QMSA students are encouraged to join any faculty member’s research group meetings throughout the year.

Q: Are there any paid RA positions available for QMSA students?

A: There shall be paid RA positions available, which you can apply when you start the program. MAPSS Career Services sends out bi-weekly digest of job and internship by email. All MAPSS students also have access to Career Services Online with Jobs Central, which can assist students with jobs and internship (https://voices.uchicago.edu/ssdmacareers/employment-resources/job-search-sites-2/)

Q: Do QMSA students typically assist faculty on a voluntary basis?

A: They don’t typically do so given the heavy load of three courses per quarter. However, if you have more time beyond courses and thesis, we think it is sometimes helpful that you engage in occasionally voluntary work.

Q: I plan to apply to behavioral science PhD programs. Can I have faculty at Booth as my thesis advisor?

A: Yes, we have a couple of faculty from Booth. If you are interested in working with them, please contact them individually to seek mutual interest.

Q: Can I still work in my current lab after I transfer to QMSA?

A: You certainly can, and if you want to stay with your assigned faculty mentor who is outside of QMSA, you’ll need find a second mentor from within QMSA.

Questions for the 2021 cohort only

Q: Can I apply for OPT if I do the fall quarter outside the United States?

A:  Yes, you can. Taking fall courses online from outside of the US does not affect your ability to apply for OPT (OIA’s page about OPT https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/opt)

Q: Is the Computational Math Camp and its placement test happening on campus or is it due via remote learning?       

A: Both will be online.

Q: When does the Computational Math Camp and its placement test begin?

A: The Computational Math Camp starts August 31, 2020. Please register it here (https://apply-ssd.uchicago.edu/register/ComputationCamp2020). A copy of the syllabus for this year is available here (https://uchicago.app.box.com/s/bvog8dokhr4vkjwqzzx8z0rofn8ivtdp).

Q: Using an F-1 visa, will I be eligible for the 3-year OPT?

A: We would hope so, but please make sure you contact our OIA office (https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu).

Q: Is the COVID-19 test required?    

A: Not that we know of, unless you have COVID-symptoms.